UC San Diego’s 2017 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report is not an accurate representation of sexual assault and harassment on campus, due to the fear of reporting survivors often have.
The 2017 Safety Report found 24 total sexual violence incidents in 2016, 28 in 2015, and 15 in 2014. In 2016, 10 of those were attributed to dating violence, 9 to stalking, and 5 to domestic abuse. In comparison, UC Berkeley had 56 reported incidents in 2016: 22 of dating violence, 13 of domestic violence, and 21 of stalking. UC Berkeley also had 24 reported rapes, while UCSD had 10.
The Safety Report describes the security and access to buildings, the fire safety and evacuation plans for every dorm, the process for a Title IX sexual assault investigation, statistics on the number of fire alarm incidents, and incidences of crime on campus.
The report, published at the end of each year, is mandated by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. The Clery Act mandates that universities and colleges participating in federal financial aid programs must disclose crime statistics and other security information. It must be published annually by October 1, displaying crime statistics for the previous three years. The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 amended the Clery Act to require specific statistics about dating violence, domestic abuse, and stalking.
These numbers do not represent the actual number of sexual assault incidents that occurred on campus. In a survey The Triton conducted during April Sexual Assault Awareness Month, seven out of eight respondents answered that they did not report incidents of sexual assault or harassment to the university.
“Campus culture and a general lack of awareness about resources for students contributes to the issue as well,” said Annie Park, the UCSD undergraduate representative to the UC Students Title IX Advisory Board. “Our campus can, at times, feel very isolating, and while there are many opportunities for students to make connections with their peers, there may also be a sense that the larger community is not concerned about issues related to gender-based violence.”
In an anonymous survey created in December 2017 about sexual misconduct in academia, three of the responses accused unnamed UCSD faculty of misconduct.
“My co-advisor, who was aware of the situation on some level, blamed me for the situation,” said one respondent. Another said that her interaction with a thesis advisor undermined her mental health and made her consider dropping out of the program. Many of the almost 2,500 respondents from many universities note that they felt powerless at institutions that do nothing to protect their students.
While UCSD has the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD), sexual offenders are often not brought to justice. One of the UCSD survey respondents from the 2017 survey alleged that OPHD refused to investigate her allegations of misconduct even after she found another victim of the same professor.
Park believes that UCSD has great care facilities for survivors of sexual assault, such as Care at the Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC), but many people are unaware of the services they offer.
“It is important to create a culture in which victims feel comfortable reporting an assault, and this is something UCSD must work on,” said Park. “It is also important to acknowledge that survivors’ responses to sexual violence are often complex, counter-intuitive, and heterogeneous. There is no correct or standard way to handle such a trauma, and reporting is not always the best solution.”
Ethan Coston is an Assistant News Editor for The Triton. You can follow him @Ethan4Books